To date, the of Depp posted above is the only picture that has surfaced from the event with President Barack Obama in the photo. . Here's the exchange (Full Archive White House Press Conference Jan 3, 2011)
Here's the exhchange over Jodi Kantor's Book, "The Obama's " during this morning's press conference at the White House:
Q: Jay, there’s a lot of interest in Jodi Kantor’s book that’s coming out tomorrow -- details tensions between the First Lady and some, well, former top aides to President Obama. I’m just wondering what you think about her accounts in the book.
MR. CARNEY: Well, let me just say that books like these tend to overhype and sensationalize things and I think that’s the case here. The fact of the matter is -- and I think this is depicted in the book -- the relationship between the President and the First Lady is incredibly strong; their commitment to each other, to their children, and to the reasons why this President ran for office is all very strong. The fact of the matter is the First Lady is very focused on the issues that matter to her -- helping military families, fighting childhood obesity -- and she has done that remarkably well. And I think that’s reflected also in the book.
Q: What do you make of the account that’s getting so much attention that Robert Gibbs cursed the First Lady in a meeting with top White House aides?
MR. CARNEY: Again, I think that books like these generally over-sensationalize things. I know some people groan a little bit when I do this, but I’ve covered a couple of White Houses myself, and the fact of the matter is I’ve been here all three years, although not in this position. The atmosphere and collegiality here is much better than any of the White Houses I’ve covered. And that’s been the case from day one here and continues to be the case.
But these are high-pressure jobs. There’s always a lot at stake. And the commitment the people show to the President, to the First Lady, and to the causes that brought them here is fierce. And sometimes that intensity leads people to raise their voices or have sharp exchanges. But the overall picture is one of remarkable collegiality and a genuine focus.
I mean, I think you guys know this, too. A lot of you have covered previous administrations, previous White Houses. This is a remarkably harmonious place, given everything that’s at stake and the enormity of the issues that are discussed and debated here every day.
Q: Can you just speak to the voracity of the Gibb’s --
MR. CARNEY: No, I’m not going to get into individual anecdotes from there. And I’ll simply say that isolating one incident where there were sharp words, whether it’s accurate or not, doesn’t reflect the overall atmosphere and tenor here, or doesn’t make clear -- also doesn’t make clear that in some cases these anecdotes -- what really is the focus here, which every individual at the senior level that I know is determined to work for the President, work for the First Lady, towards achieving the things that they set out to do when they came here in January of 2009.
So that’s what I see every day. That’s what I saw in my first two years in my other job. And I think it’s a testimony to the commitment that the folks here have to these causes that we have this kind of relationship among ourselves.
Q: Follow up to that? In your three years here, has it been common for Mrs. Obama to express an interest in the West Wing policy? Does she voice her concerns? Has she --
MR. CARNEY: No, I think as the author of this book herself said just the other day, if not today, that, in fact, no. The First Lady is very focused on the issues that matter dearly to her -- military families and the fight against childhood obesity. She’s also very focused on raising her two children, and giving them an upbringing that is as normal as can be in these rather unusual circumstances.
Q: She was not unhappy with the loss of her -- upset about the loss of the Senate seat --
MR. CARNEY: There wasn’t anybody who occupy -- who comes to work here who wasn’t disappointed by a political loss, the one you’re referring to. I don’t know that she was personally. She doesn’t come to meetings in the West Wing. But I think everybody had hoped for a different outcome to that race.
Q: Why didn’t the White House confirm at the time that Johnny Depp was here?
MR. CARNEY: This is a perfect example of why -- it goes right to my first point about how these books take -- books like these take these things out of context. A couple of outlets that I won’t name reported that a secret party -- well, if it was secret, why did we invite the press in? Why was there a pool report? Why were there contemporaneous photographs? This was an event --
Q: There was no pool report from the State Dining Room about Johnny Depp being there.
MR. CARNEY: Ann, this wasn’t a publicity event for the outside. This was an event for military children and their families inside the White House, where the press came, photographs were taken. It was contemporaneously known who was here. If that’s -- if we’re trying to hide something by bringing in the press, we’re not very good at it.
So, again, I think as many people have said in the wake of those reports, it’s an example of the kind of hype and sensationalizing that books like this do.
Q: For the record, there’s not one statement from this White House about --
MR. CARNEY: But again, the purpose wasn’t to -- for any of these -- we do a lot of these things -- July 4th, other events here, including other events that are geared towards military families and their kids, where the purpose isn’t to publicize them externally for you guys, but to have a nice event for them here, which is different from trying to hide anything. Again, you don’t bring the press in, you don’t have photographs going out of here in real time if you’re trying to keep something on the down low.
But the focus of the event was on celebrating and giving a nice time to military families and their kids, and the event itself was overwhelmingly for children.
Q: But the allegation that the author is making indirectly is that the White House did deliberately keep Johnny Depp and just in general the Hollywood angle out of this because of the recession.
MR. CARNEY: Then why were there pictures of Johnny Depp instantly available?
Q: To who? Because the media was not --
MR. CARNEY: I mean, there were pictures --
Q: -- let into that part where Johnny Depp was, if I understand it.
MR. CARNEY: There were many, many people in the White House -- public and staff and others -- and there were photographs out there. I mean, honestly, Ed, I mean, again, there are outlets that have reported this as a “secret” party, which is just silly. And it’s irresponsible reporting to suggest that, that you would have a pool report and the press at an event that’s secret, and have it attended by hundreds if not thousands of people.
So the focus was on military families and their kids. And it was not on publicity outside of here, it was on those who were invited.
Q: So if you say the book is overhyped and sensationalized, including that anecdote, why did 33 people around this White House to include senior aides and cooperate with this author?
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, that happened before the book came out. But we cooperate with all of you on the stories that you work on. We give access to you, grant -- you get interviews. Some of your stories turn out to accurately reflect what we know has happened here and some of them, in our view, don’t necessarily reflect that. But that’s part of our job, in the press shop here, is to work with folks -- working on broadcast reports, radio reports, print reports, book, prose, poems, short films -- (laughter) --
MR. CARNEY: Haiku. (Laughter.) All that kind of stuff.
Q: Are you aware of -- on the anecdote that Brianna was talking about, are you aware of Robert Gibbs apologizing to the First Lady about that? Is that something the President was upset about?
MR. CARNEY: While I was at the White House I wasn’t in those meetings at that time and I don’t have anything more for you on it. What I can tell you is that Robert is, as you know, focused on helping the President get reelected. He is out there, every bit as much of the team and a member of the team now as he was back then. And then I would just point you to what I said before about these are high-pressure jobs with a lot at stake. But the fact of the matter is, the overall story here is how collegial and harmonious and focused everyone is here on the task at hand.
Q: Let me go back to the book -- sorry, Jay. Has the President or the First Lady responded at all to this so far? And then, secondly, what’s the response to sort of the overarching theme in the book of the First Lady’s what seems to be unhappiness with her role or seemed to be back then, and what’s described as living in a “bunker-like atmosphere” of the White House?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would point you now to -- because obviously she wasn’t interviewed for this book, but she has given interviews and answered this question as recently as in the last few weeks about the remarkable privilege she feels she’s been given to be First Lady and how she feels blessed by the opportunity to be First Lady. So I would point you to the First Lady’s words to answer that question.
And broadly, I think you have to remember that the story here is of a husband and wife, a mother and father whose lives were enormously different five or six years ago from what they are and what they were when they came to the White House. And that’s an incredible transition that I think observers rightly point out has been done with remarkable grace and success in terms of the priorities that the President has set for himself and for the country, and in terms of the priorities that the First Lady has set for herself and for her family.
So that’s my reaction.
Q: But have they reacted personally to it?
MR. CARNEY: No. My guess is they both have a lot on their plate. Maybe they’ve seen a story or two, but it’s probably not something they’re going to spend a lot of time reading. Don’t forget, there are tons of books written about this White House, this administration, this President, this First Lady. This is just another one of them. So my guess is they stay focused on the things that matter most to them.
Kate and then Bill.
Q: What is the White House doing to prepare for challenges from Congress -- for recess appointments? What is the counsel’s office doing? Any conversations with members of Congress?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any specific conversations or meetings to report. You know our position. We feel very strongly about the legal foundation for the course of action the President took. The fact of the matter is -- and again, if you have any doubts, please head up to the Hill and check out for yourself -- Congress is in recess. Chambers are empty. The halls are quiet.
Senate Republicans, despite overwhelming support across the country from Republicans and Democrats, attorneys general, decided to block this nominee and prevent middle-class Americans from having a watchdog looking out for their interests here in Washington.
Like I said before, financial institutions have a lot of well-paid lobbyists in Washington working with Congress to try to get their interests served. The American people deserve, and this President believes they deserve, a consumer watchdog whose only job is to make sure that they’re protected from abusive practices, and that’s why the President took the action he did.
Q: Can we expect more recess appointments while Congress is in recess?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any announcements with regard to appointments to make today.
Q: And also General Dempsey said the U.S. would take action to open the Strait of Hormuz if Iran closes it. What kind of preparations -- I mean, what kind of action is he referring to specifically?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would refer you to the Department of Defense for any specifics. We’re very confident in our capabilities. And I’ll leave it at that.
Julia. I’m sorry, Bill, yes. Then Julia.
Q: Going back to the American prisoner in Iran. You said that you’d heard reports. Do you not have any official word from the Swiss that he --
MR. CARNEY: We’re working through the Swiss protecting powers to confirm those reports. I’m not saying that we doubt them. I’m just saying that we’ve seen the reports and we’re working with the Swiss who represent us -- or with whom we work to represent us in Tehran in our dealings with the Iranian government.
Q: So no official word yet?
MR. CARNEY: Again, that’s right. That’s what I just said. We’re working with the Swiss to do that.